Hundreds of thousands of voters in Uganda will solid their votes this week in an election pitting a 76-year-old president in search of his sixth time period in opposition to a former in style musician half his age.
The competition between Bobi Wine, 38, and Yoweri Museveni, who has been in energy since 1986, is being keenly watched throughout the continent, the place veteran leaders are coming below stress to offer approach to politicians extra consultant of Africa’s more and more youthful, city and educated inhabitants.
Wine has explicitly linked his marketing campaign to efforts elsewhere throughout Africa to oust veteran leaders, and instructed the Observer that his was “a generational trigger”. “The oppressed individuals can’t keep oppressed for ever. Historical past has taught us that even probably the most brutal and well-known dictators have come down, crumbling to the facility of the individuals,” Wine mentioned.
“My warning to Museveni is to be taught from historical past. It’s necessary that you just respect the voices of the individuals of Uganda as a result of, if you don’t, then additionally, you will find yourself within the dustbin of historical past like your pals [Muammar] Gaddafi, [Robert] Mugabe and [Omar al-] Bashir.
The marketing campaign has already been marked by the worst political violence in Uganda for many years, with greater than 50 individuals shot lifeless by safety forces over two days of protests following the arrest of Wine in November.
On 1 December, police fired photographs into Wine’s automotive, prompting him to briefly droop his marketing campaign. Since then, a bodyguard has been killed when run over by a police truck, and Wine was arrested for a second time.
Opposition supporters have been routinely dispersed by safety forces utilizing teargas and rubber bullets. Journalists have been harassed, and human rights activists and high-profile critics of the federal government have been detained.
Worldwide watchdogs akin to Amnesty Worldwide say measures applied ostensibly to struggle Covid-19 are being utilized selectively to stop the opposition campaigning successfully.
Wine mentioned: “The marketing campaign is loopy. Daily we’re met with closely armed army officers. I’m afraid and anxious daily. I worry for my life and lives of my comrades within the battle.
“The regime is after our lives. Daily we dwell is as if it’s the final one.”
On 7 January, police confronted Wine throughout an internet press convention the place he introduced a petition to the worldwide felony courtroom to research rights abuses in Uganda.
Recognized to supporters as “the ghetto president”, the previous singer broke into formal politics in 2017 when he gained a seat in Uganda’s nationwide meeting. He has since been badly assaulted and detained many occasions.
Wine, whose actual title is Robert Kyagulanyi, grew up in poverty in Kampala earlier than his profitable musical profession. As a politician, he has attracted enthusiastic assist from amongst Uganda’s younger and concrete inhabitants who need change. The median age within the nation is lower than 16.
Flavia Namukasa, 23, was amongst lots of of jubilant supporters who attended Wine’s marketing campaign rally within the central city of Rakai, 200km from the capital Kampala, in late December. “We now have come out in huge numbers to assist Bobi Wine. He’s our solely hope. He’ll be capable of deal with our distress, every day struggling and excessive unemployment charges,” she mentioned.
However Wine has but to put out any detailed coverage programmes and faces an skilled opponent who can depend on loyalty from people and establishments which have benefited from his rule over many years.
Museveni is in search of a sixth time period after MPs eliminated constitutional age limits on the presidency, and has the assist of the safety forces and far of the forms.
Some voters have been rattled by the violence related to current protests, which they blame on the opposition. Extra importantly, many years of financial development and subsidies have gained Museveni a mass following in rural areas.
“My subsequent president nonetheless stays Museveni. Though they name him Mzee [old man], he isn’t weak. He’s nonetheless robust and in a position to lead this nation,” mentioned Richard Kiboneka, a 62-year-local chief in Mbalwa within the central district of Wakiso.
Although few deny Museveni’s early achievements – from 1992 to 2013 the proportion of Ugandan households dwelling in poverty was halved – critical financial issues had been more and more evident, even earlier than the hammer blow of the pandemic.
Whereas some 700,000 younger individuals attain working age yearly in Uganda, solely sufficient jobs for one in 10 are created, in accordance with the World Financial institution. Poor fundamental companies, corruption, costly healthcare and overcrowded lecture rooms have additionally fuelled discontent in city areas particularly.
Museveni has not responded to criticism of his document, as an alternative accusing Wine and different opposition leaders of being “traitors” who deliberate “revolt … with their overseas backers”.
At one rally, the president mentioned that the protesters had been “being utilized by outsiders … homosexuals and others who don’t like the steadiness and independence of Uganda”.
Judith Nabakooba, Uganda’s minister for data, communications know-how and nationwide steering, mentioned that Museveni had assured peace and stability “for thus a few years”.
“He’s a good chief. He has a full and wider view of Uganda, east Africa, Africa and internationally. He’s examined. He is aware of the place we’ve got come from … and is aware of the place to take us. To safe our future, we actually must assist President Museveni,” she mentioned.
Although Museveni is anticipated to win the competition, the previous insurgent chief is more likely to emerge weakened, and the ballot might usher in a interval of instability in Uganda.
Wine mentioned that “when individuals flip up in large numbers and vote, there can be no approach the regime can attempt to alter the voice and the desire of the individuals”.
Analysts have expressed issues about democracy throughout japanese and southern Africa lately, though they are saying the image is as different inside these areas as it’s throughout the continent.
The current election in Tanzania was marred by widespread repression, whereas crackdowns in Zimbabwe have led to journalists and political activists being jailed for months with out being discovered responsible of any offence.
In Malawi, nevertheless, Lazarus Chakwera gained energy in a recent ballot after the judges overturned a 2019 election amid allegations of fraud.
Persistence Akumu, a Ugandan journalist and analyst, mentioned officers’ declare that solely Museveni may assure safety was unfounded.
“I believe it tells us how flimsy the present safety is, if it depends on one man. The robust males of the continent are falling one after the other, and Museveni will go finally,” Akumu instructed the Observer. “Uganda, Africa, should face this truth.”